Does your manufacturing company really need a website or digital marketing? [Part 2]

In my last post I presented 5 ways that a modern, optimized website can help your manufacturing company make more money. In this post I’m going to focus on how digital marketing — specifically SEO — can do the same.

Why should you care about SEO?

SEO or search engine optimization is the process of making your online content easily readable by Google. Let me explain. Google is constantly sending its virtual “robots” around the web to read websites and index them. When someone searches for a term in Google, the search engine goes through its index to find the web page that it determines will offer the searcher the best information. Google will then present the searcher with a list of webpages (search results) in order of relevance.

Research shows that the number one result will usually get over 20% of all the clickthroughs, with the number 2 and 3 results each getting around 13%. The clickthrough rates begin to drop from there until the end of the first page of search results. Clickthrough rates on page 2 are minimal. That means that if you can get into the top 3 positions on Google’s results page, you’ve got a pretty good change of driving interested prospects to your website.

How do you rank in Google search results?

Google takes several factors into consideration when ranking a website in its search results.

Content Quality and Relevance

Google’s objective is to provide searches with the most useful and accurate search results. Therefore, the quality and relevance of your content is going to be the most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm (although the algorithm is secret, so nobody really knows for sure). In the old days you could “fool” Google by creating poorly written content stuffed with keywords. That doesn’t work anymore.

Google continues to improve its algorithm to be able to differentiate between useful content and garbage, and it’s gotten pretty darn good at it. So by simply writing great content, you’ve got a good shot at catching Google’s attention and getting ranked. Of course, your competitors might very well be doing the same thing, which makes the battle for appearing on Google’s first page of results challenging, to put it mildly.

Onpage SEO

Now that you’ve create quality content, you need to make it easy for google to read and understand.

As google’s robots read through a page they look for certain coding tags that help identify the main idea and purpose of the text. The main tag that the robots look for is called the title tag, which should contain the central keyword phrase that the page is targeting. For example, the title tag should not consist solely of the company name, since potential customers are probably not searching for your name.  Determining the proper keywords to utilize in the tag and content requires keyword research.

There are also header tags (h1 h2 h3) which are used to organize the page and help google determine the meaning and the importance of the text following it. Since google cannot actually read images, each image needs to be tagged with a relevant description (alt tag).

Speed and Responsiveness

As part of its mission to provide users with the best service, Google also prefers showing searchers web pages that load quickly and are mobile compatible (responsive). The speed of your website is based on many different factors including:

  1. Your hosting company
  2. The code on your website
  3. The images on your website
  4. The number of plugins and scripts you’re employing

A good free tool to check the speed and responsiveness of your website is Google’s Pagespeed Insights, which will indicate what is slowing down your site and give you suggestions on how to fix it.

Links

One of the primary ways Google determines the relevance of a page of content is by looking at other sites that link to that page. The more authoritative the website that is linking to your page is, the more weight google will give to the content on your page. For example, if your page is linked to by an article in the NYTimes, then that link is most probably going to give your page a big boost since it is coming from a very authoritative site, which makes Google feel more comfortable showing it to their users.

Getting links from authoritative sites is not easy. But at the very least, your website should have links to it coming from a variety of authoritative directories and social media platforms. Most importantly, you should be sure to create a Google Business Page.

The primary way to get links from other websites (other than paying for them, which is prohibited by Google) is by creating high quality and valuable content that other websites will organically link to.

While links are an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, the effect links will have in any specific page is directly related to the competition for the respective search term or keyword being targeted. If none of the other sites relating to that keyword contain authoritative links, then Google will likely base its ranking decision on other factors like the quality and relevance of the content, proper onpage SEO, speed and mobile responsiveness. Determining the importance of links in your specific case requires keyword research and competitive analysis.

Getting Results

The objective of investing in SEO is to get found by potential customers who are searching for your product in Google. The effectiveness of SEO for your particular business is going to depend on who your target customer is and the competitiveness of your industry.

If you are trying to reach customers in your local area, you’re going to want to focus on getting to the top of Google’s local search results. Here’s a screenshot of how Google’s local search results look for the search query “digital marketing agency” run from Teaneck, NJ.

local search results

 

While your ranking will be effected by the number of competitors and their own SEO efforts, your chances of getting to the top of your local results are pretty good if you cover the SEO elements covered in this post.

If you are trying to reach an audience beyond your local region, your SEO fortunes are going to be much more tied to your competition and the keywords you are targeting. For example, if you are competing against Home Depot, Lowes and WalMart and you’re targeting the keyword “shovel”, you’re probably not going to have much luck getting into the top search result slots. But if you’re targeting a narrower niche, like “metal snow shovels in NJ”, and you’re willing to invest in your SEO, you can potentially make it to the top.

So now that you’ve got some idea of what SEO is and how to apply it to your business, the question you’ve got to ask is whether it’s worthwhile investing in it and how much should that investment be?

The answer to that depends on how much a new customer is worth to you. Then compare that number to the SEO investment. You do the math.

Now that I’ve briefly covered SEO, I’m going to move on to PPC (pay per click) advertising.

 

Does your manufacturing company really need a website or digital marketing? [Part 1]

If your company manufactures and/or distributes industrial products such as machinery, equipment parts, chemicals, or other industrial raw materials, you’ve probably been torn by the idea of investing in a modern website and digital marketing.

On the one hand you’ve been told that every company needs to have a website, because it’s the future (and the present). On the other hand, you just don’t see how investing in a website and digital marketing is going to help you make more sales. You’ve been doing business the “old fashioned” way for years (or decades) and things are fine as they are. In any case, you already have a website that you built about a decade ago and it should be good enough.

You’ll be surprised to hear that I totally agree with you. Well, not about the need for a website and digital marketing. But I totally agree with the way you’re analyzing the whole situation. You want to understand whether investing in a website and digital marketing is going to help you make more money, and that’s exactly the right way to look at it. The only reason to invest is to get a return greater than your investment.

So how is investing thousands of dollars in a website and digital marketing going to help you make more money?

I’m glad you asked!

How a website will help you make more money

Company Image

Remember all that stuff about not judging a book by its cover? Well, it’s not true. People absolutely do judge not only books, but companies and people by their appearance and image. First impressions play a major role in the decision making process, and a negative first impression is very hard to recover from.

For most potential customers or business partners, your website will be the first impression they get of your company. A modern, user-friendly website with informative content will send the message that you are the type of company they would want to work with. An old, outdated website that’s difficult to navigate and has content from the 1980s is not going to be very effective in convincing them to work with you.

Every potential customer that gets turned off by your antique website is money lost. But just think how rewarding it would be to get even one new client on the basis of the positive impression your new website made. Even your existing customers and partners will look at you with a bit more respect when they see your new, modern website. In fact, that’s exactly what happened to one of our clients (in chemical sales and distribution) who got heaps of compliments and praise after they unveiled the new website we built them.

Website Content – Sales

Customers today do a lot of online research before making a purchase. Studies reveal that buyers will complete 80% of their buying process through online research before ever speaking to a sales person. When they do finally speak to a sales person, they have answered most of their basic questions and are very close to making their final decision (great news for your sales team). All this means that you need to provide potential customers with the information about your products they are searching for. Your website serves as the home for that information.

The more useful information potential customers get from your website, the better the chance you have of being their final source of purchase. But if you don’t have the information they’re looking for, they’ll look elsewhere for it — probably on your competitors websites.

Website Content – Customer Service

In addition to informing potential customers in preparation of a sale, the content on your website can also serve your existing customers while saving you time and money. In-depth support and how to articles and videos and a thorough FAQ page can drastically reduce the time your staff needs to spend on customer support questions and issues.

Lead Generation

When potential customers do visit your site and read your content, you’d expect them to contact you to start the purchasing process. Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as that. If the customer is still in the researching phase of their buyer’s journey, they won’t contact you until they’re ready. But you don’t want to simply hope that they’ll remember to contact you, instead of your competitors. No!

Before they leave your website you want to try and get their contact info — at least their email address — so you can reach out to them to keep your company on their mind. The way to do that is to offer them something of value to them in exchange for their info. It could be something as simple as a tip sheet (ex. 7 Ways to …), or a special report or ebook, which they can download. They get a useful piece of content; you get a lead to place in your sales funnel for followup. That followup can be done manually or via an automated email sequence (ie marketing automation).

Search Engines – SEO

Another byproduct of your new website is the effect that it will have on your visibility in Google search (and other search engines). I’ll deal with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in much greater detail in Part 2 of this series. But in short, the more optimized and informative your website and content is, the better chances you have of appearing in a higher position in the Google search results for your keyword phrases. And being found more in Google could translate into more potential customers.

Final Answer

So will investing in a modern, optimized website with informative content help you make more money? I’ve given you 5 reasons why the answer is yes. But there’s a lot more where that came from! In the next couple of articles in this series I’ll discuss the potential benefits of digital marketing for your manufacturing business including SEO, PPC, social media and online sales prospecting.

5 Reasons Why Old School Companies Need Websites and Digital Marketing – 301

Most hi-tech, consumer goods and ecommerce companies understand the necessity of having a modern, well designed and user friendly website. But for “old school” companies like those in construction, manufacturing and low-tech services, the need for a first rate website isn’t so accepted. The thinking is that customers are looking for the underlying product and service and are not concerned with the packaging (the website).

This was probably true in the not so distant past, when the common sales scenario would go something like this:

  1. Customer gets names of builders or contractors from the Yellow Pages or through personal referrals.
  2. Customer calls and sets up meetings.
  3. Builders or contractors make sales pitch and provide references and examples.
  4. Customer chooses winner.

The process was basically the same whether the customer was an individual or company or whether the product or service was construction, plumbing, machine parts, HVAC systems … you get the idea.

Well, things have changed in a big way and websites and digital marketing are now key components of growing construction, manufacturing and low-tech service related companies.

Here are 5 reasons why construction companies, contractors, manufacturers and service providers need quality websites and digital marketing.

1. Looks Do Matter
Remember that stuff your mom told you about not judging a book by its cover or that looks really don’t matter? Well, it doesn’t apply to business. The first place most customers turn to for information about a product or service provider is the company website, even if it’s just to get the company’s contact info. Their first impression of your company is going to stick with them and they’ll judge your level of professionalism and expertise by the look of your website, at least initially.

In the mind of the customer a cheap, shabby and old fashioned looking website reflects those same qualities on the owner of the website. It implies a lack of attention to detail and an outdated mindset. On the other hand, a well designed professional looking website inspires confidence in the mind of the consumer and assures them that they are dealing with a company that cares about details and appearance. Who would you rather hire to build your house or building, or deal with as your vendor?

There’s simply no excuse for an outdated, poorly designed company website. The relatively low cost of building a professional, well designed one will be just a fraction of the amount of business you’ll lose by not having one.

2. Finding You Online
While people clearly value personal referrals, and some even turn to that huge hunk of dead trees called the Yellow Pages, most consumers search online for vendors and service providers. They type their search terms into Google and look at the first page of results (sometimes the second). The good news is that the competition for rankings among the “old school” types of businesses that we’re referring to in this article is not as fierce as it is for technology or consumer brand companies. Your chances of ranking highly in local area searches are pretty good, if you create quality content on your quality website that is optimized to be found and ranked by search engines (SEO – Search Engine Optimization).

For many companies just getting one customer or client from search will more than pay for their website development and SEO. If you aren’t showing up on customer searches, you’re losing them to your competitors who do appear in search results.

3. Content Marketing
According to the latest research, customers spend up to 80% of their “buyer’s journey” researching online before ever speaking with a salesperson. That means before they pick up the phone and call you to set up a meeting, they will visit your website and read all of your content to get a feel for who you are and what you do. If your website and content are not up to par, you’ll probably never hear from them. On the flip side, informative, well written content that’s part of a modern and professional looking website can help you get over 80% of the way to closing the deal and making a sale.

4. Social Proof
Consumers rely heavily on social proof, like testimonials and reviews, to make buying decisions. There are sites totally dedicated to gathering and displaying business reviews, like Yelp.com, and ecommerce sites like amazon.com that highlight reviews as part of their strategy to increase sales. Numerous psychological studies have proven that people are more comfortable following the “crowd”, even if they don’t personally know the people making the recommendations. Your website is the ideal place to display positive reviews and testimonials of your company and work. Reading them will persuade people to want to do business with you.

5. Showcase Your Work
A picture says a thousand words and the best way to turn prospects into customers is to wow them with your work or products. Your website is your platform for displaying photos of your best projects and products for your prospective customers to see and evaluate. If they like what they see, your sales job just got a heck of a lot easier.

Bottom Line
While digital marketing, which includes having a website, is not a substitute for traditional marketing and sales techniques, it is a cost effective and efficient way of generating leads and helping convert those leads into customers. On the other hand, having a poorly designed website and weak content will definitely lose you prospective customers.

If you’re interested in using digital marketing to generate leads and make more money, please contact us.

Mobile Responsive Does NOT Equal Mobile Effective

There’s a huge amount of anxiety in anticipation of Google’s new algorithm change scheduled for April 21st, which is meant to make it easier for mobile users to find mobile friendly sites. In other words, mobile friendly sites will get a boost in mobile search ranking over their non mobile friendly competitors. According to this post in Moz.com, the new change will not effect desktop search results.

This has got everyone scrambling to make sure that their websites pass Google’s mobile friendly test. The easiest way to do that is to maintain a responsive site. Responsive design is meant to make your website display correctly on different devices and screen sizes. So your desktop website should look almost as good on a tablet and smartphone. If you’re using WordPress, this shouldn’t be hard to do since most new WordPress themes are built to be mobile responsive.

The problem with using responsive design to look good on mobile is that although it technically does work, it doesn’t always prove to be business effective. That’s because responsive design resizes your page elements to fit on a smaller screen. It does NOT transform your website into a mobile effective site.

Let’s say you’ve got a slider or a large image that covers about half of your homepage, with a line or 2 of text in a huge font. It probably looks awesome on your laptop. But on a smartphone…not so great. You’ll have to scroll down for a while until you get down to some text that you can actually read. Then you’ll have to continue scrolling to read it all. If you were on your laptop you’d see the entire page on the screen in front of you at once. On a smartphone, you’ll probably give up and bounce before you ever make sense of what you’re looking at.

Responsive design is really only effective if you design your website with mobile effectiveness in mind from the start. That might mean that you have to give up some of your imagery and tone down your design grandeur in order to be effective on mobile. Simply using a mobile theme without designing for mobile might pass the Google mobile friendliness test (or not) and get your website to fit on a mobile screen, but not in a way that will help your business.

Uploading a WordPress plugin to transform your site into a mobile web app and expecting it to work without any modifications to your site isn’t going to work either. Your blog might look good, but your pages will still be constrained by your desktop design.

Before searching for solutions it’s important to evaluate your business objectives to determine how important mobile is in your business strategy.

According to data from Nielsen 89% of consumer time spent on mobile is on apps as opposed to just 11% on mobile websites. Most of the apps consumers are using relate to social media, email and news apps.

For most B2B companies their mobile websites are probably not the driving force in their business strategy. Nevertheless, you want to have an effective presence for those prospects that do search via mobile. That doesn’t mean that your entire site including all of your content, landing pages and calls to action need to be perfectly optimized for mobile, since it’s unlikely that the B2B consumer will do all of their research on their mobile devices. But you need to give them enough easy to access information to get them to visit you on their desktop.

So, what are the solutions for making your website mobile effective?

If you’re a B2B company where mobile isn’t a major factor in generating leads, then you should use the design you feel will be most effective on desktop and then make it responsive. It might still not be very effective on mobile, but your business is coming via desktop so you don’t want to sacrifice the effectiveness of your desktop design.

A better solution would be to create a separate mobile website optimized for mobile devices. The mobile site doesn’t have to contain everything your main site does. It should focus on communicating your primary message and main features and have an easy to use contact form. Remember, all you want to do is give mobile prospects enough to either contact you or visit your desktop site.

If you’re using WordPress you can create a subfolder with a mobile theme, and install a mobile detect plugin on your main site to divert mobile users to the mobile site.

Whatever decision you take, make sure it stems from your business strategy and not just the desire to look good on mobile. But remember, just because it’s mobile responsive doesn’t mean it’s mobile effective.

Can You Buy Your Way to the First Page on Google Search?

Can you buy your way to first page of Google search results, or even the first position? I get cold calls regularly from people who claim they can do just that for a small recurring fee. Sounds intriguing. But is there any truth to it? (Ranking first for your company name doesn’t really count.)

There obviously is a way to get listed first in Google search for money. It’s called Adwords. That’s the paid advertisements that you see at the top of your Google search results. If you’re willing to pay the highest price per click for your chosen keywords and website is deemed relevant and useful to users by the Google algorithm, then you have a pretty good chance of being able to snag the first position in the search results.

Being at the top of the page could equal a big payoff, or it could wipe out your bank account. It all depends on how much you stand to earn per sale and how big your ad budget is. But clearly, buying that top paid position for the right price is a pretty good possibility.

But how about organic search?

Can you buy your way to the top of the Google organic search results?

The simple answer is no. Google doesn’t sell positions in organic search results. They wouldn’t be very “organic” if you could buy them, would they?

The way to climb the ladder to the top of organic search results is via SEO – search engine optimization – which according to Google is a combination of lots of factors with the main one being superior content that gives value to the reader along with an awesome user experience. And lots of high quality links that point to your content pages.

Can money buy great content and SEO? It sure can.

With the right budget you can hire writers to create a steady stream of new content around your keywords. You can also hire a marketing team to share that content on social media and anywhere else your target prospects might be. They can form relationships with influential bloggers who might then let you publish a guest post or 2 and reach a new, huge target audience.

Large companies have the resources to do all of that and more. Many of them are. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t compete in your own niche, as long as you can refine the parameters of that niche. You probably won’t be able to compete for a keyword like “shoes”, but you do have a good chance of competing for “shoes in Smithtown, PA” (insert your own town, county, area, zipcode etc).

No matter how narrow you target, you still need good, optimized content on your website or blog to get Google’s attention and love. You also need to share that content to spread the word and possibly get inbound links. If you can do all of that on your own or in-house, go for it!

Most small and midsized business don’t have the expertise in-house, and they aren’t willing or able to invest in full time talent. That’s where digital marketing agencies come in. We can create your content, do your SEO and social media marketing for much less than it would cost you to do it in-house.

So, can you buy your way to the first page in Google? By investing in superior content, SEO and social media marketing, you’ve got a good fighting chance.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your website to attract more visitors and generate more leads, contact us now.

Why Digital Marketing is Vital to a Successful B2B Sales Process

When you think of traditional business to business (B2B) selling, you probably think of salespeople making cold calls to dig up leads and convince them to try their product or service. While tradition sales prospecting techniques still have their place in the sales process, the latest research points in a different direction.

Research shows that up to 60-90% of decision-making in B2B is made before the decision-maker approaches the supplier:

“A CEB (Corporate Executive Board) study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision – researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on – before even having a conversation with a supplier.”

“SiriusDecisions reports that 70% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete before prospects are willing to engage with a live salesperson”

“Two-thirds to 90% of the buying cycle is completed before a B2B buyer ever speaks with a sales rep.” – Forrester

“Business buyers spend just 21% of buying cycle in conversations with salespeople, instead spending 23% of the time in conversations with peers and colleagues and 56% of the buying cycle searching for and engaging with content” – IDG Connect

At the extreme, a buyer will get 90% of the way towards making a final decision on whether to purchase your product or service before speaking with a sales rep.

That’s great news for companies with effective digital marketing strategies. The more informative content you can give the potential buyer, the better your chance of making the sale before you even speak with him or her.

But you need great content, and you need your potential buyer to be able to find it. To do that you need your digital marketing to include:

1. Creating the right content that will inform and engage.

2. SEO – Optimizing that content for search engines to find.

3. Sharing that content on relevant social media platforms.

There’s still a role for a great salesperson who can build relationships and close deals. But the process of generating those leads has changed. Consumers want as much information as they can get to base their decisions on. And there’s plenty of information out there in the digital sphere for them to use.

To be successful, B2B companies need effective digital marketing strategies to create superior content and get it in front of their potential customers.